Morgendämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer theologirt.
Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit id es semper esse puerum.
Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
Homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto.
Semper idem sed non eodem modo.


VDMA

Verbum domini manet in aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25, quoting Isaiah 40:6,8. Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.


Fayth onely justifieth before God. Robert Barnes, DD The Supplication, fourth essay. London: Daye, 1572.

Lord if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Robert Barnes, DD, before he was burnt alive for "heresy", 30 July 1540.

What is Luther? The doctrine is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. Martin Luther, Dr. theol. (1522)

For the basics of our faith right here online, or for offline short daily prayer or devotion or study, scroll down to "A Beggar's Daily Portion" on the sidebar.

28 June 2010

The Fourth Of July. 2010.

We did not actually declare independence from Mother England on the Fourth of July. What happened was, the Second Continental Congress approved a formal declaration on the Fourth of July, explaining the Lee Resolution adopted two days earlier, the Second of July, which actually declared the independence. Here's the story.

I. Hostilities Break Out.

When the Revolutionary War began in April 1775 in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, independence was a minority opinion, and not the goal of the fighting. Most here hoped to remain under the English Crown, and objected rather to the acts of Parliament re the colonies, who were not represented in Parliament. The Seven Years War had concluded twelve years earlier in Europe, with England and Prussia and other German states (there was no Germany in the modern sense) against France, Russia, Sweden, Austria, Saxony and later Spain.

Our French and Indian War was actually a part of the Seven Years War, and broke out in 1754, though the Seven Years War is dated from its European outbreak in 1756. It lasted another seven years, hence the name, until 1763, and Winston Churchill called it really the first world war, with hostilities happening not just in Europe or over just seven years, but in North America, India and West Africa in the combatants' colonies. England won, more or less; things didn't change much in Europe per se, but England emerged the world's dominant colonial power.

But it left Mother England in huge debt. To pay for the war debt, all kinds of taxes were enacted by Parliament, particularly to bring in revenue from the colonies. England saw it as the colonies' fair share of being fought for; the colonies thought that since they were not represented in Parliament that body had no right to tax them. England was stingy with currency in the colonies anyway, and many took to using the Spanish currency the dolar from La Florida, now a state but then a Spanish colony South of us, which is why we have "dollars" to this day.

The beef was with Parliament, not the Crown. Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others, proposed something like what is now the British Commonwealth, preserving unity with the English Crown but leaving Parliament the legislative body for England only, elsewhere being under legislative bodies where they were represented. It was even hoped that the Crown would intervene with Parliament for the colonies.

II. Tom Paine and Common Sense.

But unfolding events did not go that way, and brought more and more over to the cause of independence even if remaining under the Crown would have been their preference. A major boost came on 10 January 1776, when Thomas Paine published a 48 page pamphlet called Common Sense. It was published anonymously, for obvious reasons, and royalties went to support General Washington's Continental Army. It was signed, By An Englishman, which he was, from Thetford, Norfolk. He emigrated on the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, and arrived in Philadelphia on 30 November 1774, too sick from the typhoid fever that plagued the ship to get off the boat without the assistance of Franklin's physician.

In making the case for independence, Paine intentionally avoided the Enlightenment style, which used much philosophy from ancient Greece and Rome, and wrote more like a sermon, using Biblical references to make his case, so as to be understood by everyone, not just the educated. Now don't go thinking he was some sort of Christian founding father. Paine had no use for Christianity, be it Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, or for any other religion either. In later works he specifically rejected claims about Jesus as Son of God and Saviour as fabulous, literally, fables, nothing more than reworked sun worship, and advocated Deism, "by which I then meant, and mean now, the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues".

"Then" and "now" refer to the first and second of the three separately written parts of his The Age of Reason; the quotation is from the second part. Paine and Common Sense though were not much on the minds of the Continental Congress, which was more concerned about how a declaration of independence would affect the war for it, and for that matter John Adams thought Common Sense "a crapulous mass", which we might express as a piece of, well you get the idea. Paine spent much time abroad, back in England, and eventually in France where he became part of the French Revolution too, but ran afoul of Robespierre, and was imprisoned 28 December 1793. He was scheduled to be guillotined, but the door to his cell was open to let a breeze in, and when his cell mates closed it the marking on the door faced inside. After the fall of Robespierre, 27 July 1794, he was released in November. He later became friendly with Napoleon, advising him on how to conquer England, but noting Napoleon's increasing dictatorship, although Napoleon though a gold statue of Paine should be in every city everywhere, Paine called Napoleon "the completest charlatan that ever existed".

He did not return to the US until 1802, at the invitation of President Jefferson. His support of the French Revolution then Napoleon, his disdain for religion of any kind, his antagonism to George Washington, and his distinctly un-Federalist views made him deeply unpopular. When he died, 8 June 1809 at 72 in Greenwich Village New York, his obituary, originally in The New York Citizen and reprinted throughout the country, said he "lived long, did some good and much harm" and only six people came to his funeral.

III. Independence.

It went a little differently for our revolution. The Virginia Convention on 15 May 1776 instructed the Virginia delegated to the Continental Congress to propose to that body a declaration of independence. Richard Henry Lee, General Lee's great uncle, so proposed on 7 June 1776, hence the name Lee Resolution. It was seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts. Here is the text:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

Not all of the colonial conventions had so instructed their delegates to vote for independence, so support was rallied and debate put off. Meanwhile, a Committee of Five was formed to draft a formal declaration. The five were, John Adams (Massachusetts), Roger Sherman (Connecticut), Robert Livingston (New York), Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), Thomas Jefferson (Virginia). Jefferson was given the job of writing the draft by the other four, who reviewed it. The declaration was proposed to the Congress 28 June 1776.

Congress approved the Lee Resolution on 2 July 1776. It was not unanimous. New York abstained from the vote, as their colonial convention had given them no instructions, which assent came on 9 July. Then on 4 July the Declaration of Lee's Resolution was approved, adding Lee's Resolution at the end. However, the delegates did not all sign it right then, most of them signing 2 August 1776! But the image of everybody signing endured and even the elderly Jefferson and Adams remembered it so, though it wasn't. Although John Adams thought 2 July would be Independence Day, from the outset 4 July has been celebrated as Independence Day.

IV. The Declaration of Independence.

In my humble opinion, The Declaration of Independence, explaining passage of the Lee Resolution, is one of the towering accomplishments of the mind of Man. Consider its famous words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

We now sometimes cynically say how could it be that someone who could also write words like "all men are created equal" also owned slaves. We have it backwards. When the concept of democracy arose, in ancient Greece, there was nothing about all men are created equal to it. Democracy was a function of the free class, those with the leisure to devote to becoming informed enough to participate in democracy; those who work do not have this leisure and cannot participate. Even by that great ancestor of our Constitution, the Magna Carta, in 1215, the first time ever that subjects forced concessions from a ruler and placed subject and ruler alike under law rather than the ruler's divine right to rule, there was nothing about all men are created equal to it. The subjects were themselves rulers, lower ranking nobility.

The wonder is not then that someone who wrote "all men are created equal" could also own slaves; the wonder is that someone who owned slaves as part of the warp and woof of his time and economy could also envision "all men are created equal". And no-one was more aware of the untenable tension between the two, and the untenable nature of slavery, than the man who wrote those words. It is no discredit to him that it would fall to later leaders to work out the implications he knew full well; it is to his credit that these words were even there for later leaders to work out.

And while we're noting things, we may also note that equality of all men is not just the way it is, or the way Man is. It says all men are created equal, which means there is a Creator, and that all men have rights not because it's just that way but because all men have been so endowed by their Creator with rights that therefore may not be taken away, and that it is the function of government to secure, not grant, these rights. The Creator is essential to this, and is the source of this, which role is not diminished by our freedom to understand the Creator as we, not a government, or a government's state church, will. No Creator, no equality.

V. The Celebration of Independence.

The next year, 4 July 1777 -- the war was still on, btw, that didn't end until 1783 -- Bristol, Rhode Island, which had refused to supply the English army and got bombarded for it, fired off 13 cannon, one for each colony, at dawn and sunset to commemorate the first anniversary of the Declaration. The next year the British had taken Bristol, but in 1785, independence secured, Bristol established the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, the longest running Independence Day commemoration in the US.

The country's largest Independence Day thing is Macy's Fireworks Spectacular, which began with the bicentennial year 1976. And cities throughout the country do much the same on a smaller scale, not to mention in streets and backyards all over.

Maybe old John Adams wasn't so far off. The Fourth of July is indeed itself Independence Day, and has survived the lunacy of Day and Day (Observed) of the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968, changing four Federal holidays from what they are to Mondays to create a three day week-end, a spirit which has infected the church calendar in modern revisions too. But I guess a Fourth of July and a Fourth of July (Observed) is too absurd for even the modern mind.

But it is not at all uncommon in those years when the Fourth falls on a work-week day as we now know it, which was along time coming in 1776, for fireworks etc to be done on the nearest week-end.

And get this though -- on the third Fourth of July ever, in 1779, the Fourth fell on a Sunday, for which reason it was celebrated the next day, Monday. How about that -- the original Monday week-end was because of the Lord's Day, Sunday! Guess old Paine wasn't the main force here. At least then.

Judas H Priest, now if the Fourth falls on a Sunday we want Monday off, not because Sunday is a Lord's Day, a little Easter each week, but because we didn't get a three day week-end! Not to mention our churches making Saturday Sunday now too, so we can get church "out of the way", er, increase participation, as if most people don't get it out of the way by just not going, either day!

Sunday is still Sunday, and the Fourth of July is still the Fourth of July. After independence was declared on 2 July, the next day John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail the following, though he thought it would be for the Second of July, the day independence was actually declared, but regardless, it stands as an enduring statement of what our commemoration of independence is all about, and that ain't three-day week-ends:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

Roger that. Happy Fourth Of July!

21 June 2010

The Augsburg Confession, 480 Years On, 25 June 2010.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

So we say every Sunday. Well, a lot of us Lutherans mean to say that, but we say "Christian" instead of "catholic", though the word in the original, and we're supposed to be so big on what's in the original, is katholike, which means whole, complete, entire, universal. So does the cognate word in English, catholic. But, there's this very large and well-known church that uses the word in its name, and we wouldn't want to seem to be saying we believe in IT, now would we? Of course, some of us say it on Saturday late afternoon as if we did mean IT, following their new custom since Vatican II of Saturday Sunday services, so hey.

Our essay is in nine short sections:
I. The Lutheran "Worship Wars"
II. The Nature of Roman Catholic "liturgical reform"
III. So Why Did We Reform the Liturgy First, Not Them?
IV. The Nature of Lutheran Liturgical Reform
V. The Nature of Catholic Liturgical Reform - Trent
VI. The Nature of Catholic Liturgical Reform - Vatican II
VII. The Difference Between Catholic and Catholic Liturgical Reform
VIII. What's the Point of All This Catholic Stuff? We're Lutherans!
IX. Conclusion. Why Catholic Liturgical Reform Has No Place In Lutheran Liturgy

I. The Lutheran "Worship Wars".

Much is said these days about Lutheran church bodies abandoning classic Lutheran doctrine, and doctrine in motion, otherwise known as liturgy, for things that supposedly will bring greater numbers and we can add Lutheran content. Why one would seek to infuse a form that evolved as it did to omit the content one seeks to put back in, or think that any numbers gained thereby represent a gain for the Gospel rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, cannot be explained by anything but giving up mission for marketing.

But little if anything is said about how we have let in the back door what we try to keep out the front, and the unintended influence of the former on the latter, being two ways of doing the same thing, goes largely unrecognised. And the damage continues from Vatican II For Lutherans and Willow Creek For Lutherans alike.

On the face of it, one might indeed wonder whether there is not much a Lutheran can appreciate about the changes in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II. For example, using an Old Testament passage along with the Epistle and Gospel, praying the Canon out loud so the Verba are heard by the congregation, using the local language rather than Latin, for restoring intercessions and petitionary prayer of the people, and not in a fixed form but one that can be adapted to what is going on. Are those things so bad? Do they not return to an older and better tradition than what was set in the Tridentine Rite? While there is much that may be questionable about Vatican II liturgical reform, must we then ignore it altogether or not find in it good things we can use too?

II. The Nature of Roman Catholic "liturgical reform".

It may, at first, seem so from a Lutheran standpoint. I don't, now, have any problem with the "blessings" mentioned. But a Catholic, which I once was, ought to have tons of pixels of reasons why those "blessings" are a few of the things that are neither necessary nor even desirable, and obscure other things that are necessary. But Catholics don't anymore. For example, the "silent canon". Used to be a good thing, as The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass reflected the life of Christ, wherein he taught first, then acted for our salvation, therefore the first part of the mass is Scripture and preaching, the second the focus is the action, not the words, which are silent, let alone congregational "memorial acclamations", as in the novus ordo, which destroy the whole idea. They taught something, then started teaching something else, but said nothing really changed; I still believed what they taught me before, so I left thinking the whole thing must be screwed up both before and after.

That was then. It isn't now. When I first read the BOC along with Adult Information Class, I would see in my mind the implementation of what is said there in contrast to the implementation that I actually did see before me during and after Vatican II. WOW. Throw in Babylonian Captivity, and I'm on board!

III. So Why Did We Reform the Liturgy First, Not Them?

So here's the deal -- WE didn't get those blessings just listed from Vatican II, THEY did! So what to us then is their catching up? With the exception of the OT reading, which kind of jacks with Jerome's model of Torah/Haftorah from the synagogue lectionary to Gospel/Epistle, but adds on without destroying it, WE ALREADY HAD THEM, four hundred and some years before they started playing catch-up! And they sure as hell didn't produce the ESV.

Our problem is when we DON'T use our version of the pre-V2, and for that matter pre-Trent, historic liturgy, and instead start to worship after their new ones. It's when we DON'T add an OT reading to the historic lectionary going back to Jerome, but instead use their new one which was a conscious intended break with that tradition and the preaching associated with it. It's when we rehash their stuff, or worse rehash our stuff in the manner that they rehash their stuff, either way no different than others of us rehash American "evangelicalism" and Willow Creek or stuff like that.

So let 'em play catch-up. Hell, Benedict keeps reading Luther and who knows? Good for them. For THEM, not us. We don't need to start playing catch-up to their catch-up!

In short, the things from Vatican II which we cheer, WE ALREADY HAVE and a Catholic should deplore, and if they are now cheering them and doing them, something changed, and it wasn't us.

OK, well then that's a good thing, right? Well, again, from our point of view, yes. So, with all this good stuff happening, maybe we can even look at getting back to-gether, going "home to Rome", huh?

Just a second though. Something doesn't quite add up. If Rome has this divinely instituted guarantee in the bishops in succession from the Apostles in communion with the successor to St Peter, the Pope, where the church will always conserve the true faith of Christ, and we don't, we deny it and live outside it, and we therefore aren't even church in the strict sense of the word, how is it that we do all this stuff 400 some years before without this guarantee, and how is it if it's such a good idea that is was held up with the guys with the guarantee for 400 some years?

Seems like it oughta be the other way around; it's the guys without the guarantee and all who oughta be catching up, so if there were changes here lately with them, they must have been a different sort of change than the sort of change we did centuries ago.

IV. The Nature of Lutheran Liturgical Reform.

And indeed it was. Which is our whole point here.

What was our intent? Whether we achieved it or not is another matter; what was our intent? Our Book of Concord makes it clear again and again our intent was not to come up with anything new, but quite the opposite, to preserve what was already there.

This is meant across the board; here, since the matters mentioned above are liturgical, let's look at how this works out liturgically. Just as we aim to teach no new doctrine, but the constant doctrine of the church pruned of later accretions, so also we seek no new order of worship, but the same order, corrected of abuses.

From the Augsburg Confession:
1) in the Mass, nearly all the usual ceremonies are preserved, the only thing new being throwing in some German hymns among the sung Latin (ACXXIV)
2)and we stick to the example of the church, taken from Scripture and the Fathers, which is especially clear in that we retain the public ceremonies for the most part similar to those previously in use, only differing in the number of masses (ACXXIV),
3) and even though the observance of holy days, fasting days and the like has been the basis of outrageous distortions of forgiveness of sins by Christ's merit, nonetheless the value of good order in the church, when accompanied by proper teaching, leads us to retain the traditional order of readings in the church and the major holy days (ACXXVI).

What is the intent here, what sort of change and by what means is confessed here? Is it to make our worship more authentic by remodelling it closer to that of the early church? Is it to make our worship more authentic by remodelling it taking into account other rites of earlier origin? Is it to make our worship more authentic by coming up with a new set of readings to offer more Scripture especially more moral teaching and less miracle stories? Is it to make our worship more authentic by offering options throughout the same rite, to make our worship more authentic by regarding abuses and distortions along the way as invalidating the way itself and the rite developed along the way? Is it to then, part stepping back in history, part stepping across in other rites, and part creating new things altogether, to step forward with a new order of mass, new lectionary, new calendar, to show we have gone beyond the abuses and distortions of the past and are now ready to address the future?

Nothing of the sort! In fact, the opposite of the sort! It was to accept and preserve the constant liturgy of the church, right along with the faith it expresses, pruned of excesses and accretions. It was not to do something new, or something new made by jumping back centuries to earlier, presumably purer, times.

V. The Nature of Catholic Liturgical Reform - Trent.

We ought remember too, that when the Augsburg Confession was presented in 1530, the Tridentine Rite, as it is called now, was 40 years in the future, and when the Book of Concord was complete in 1580, it was only 10 years old. The "Tridentine Rite" was precisely Rome's effort to both address the legitimate concerns of the Reformation and at the same time guard against its doctrinal errors from Rome's point of view, establishing one norm to effect both aims for the Western Church as a whole, allowing other rites to be observed locally or by religious orders only if they were no less than two hundred years old (which is to say, before 1370, the Tridentine Rite being promulgated in 1570) and therefore untainted by the Reformation.

The 1570 typical edition would have five revisions: 1604 by Pope Clement VIII, who had also revised Jerome's Vulgate (Latin) Bible and the two needed harmonising; 1634 by Pope Urban VIII; 1884 by Pope Leo XIII; 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, mostly making official the work of the late Pius X; 1962 by Pope John XXIII, mostly making official the work of the late Pius XII.

Revised typical editions don't just happen out of the blue. They codify and formalise specific papally mandated changes made in the years before. For example, when I was an altar boy, the 1920 typical edition was in force, but Pius XII had made extensive revisions to the Holy Week liturgy binding in 1955, which were controversial then. I remember older people grousing about this new stuff that changed what Holy Week was even like. They remain controversial now, in the larger context that some advocates of the Tridentine Rite do not accept the 1962 edition which incorporated them, and/or John XXIII's later revisions to the edition, but none advocate the original 1570 edition as some sort of purity. Rome insists upon the 1962 edition where the Tridentine Rite is allowed.

The point is, when we speak of how we've "always worshipped", nobody, absolutely nobody, takes that to mean that nothing ever changed, any where, any time, and never will -- it has, it does, and it will, change not being the question, but rather what kind of change and change into what.

VI. The Nature of Catholic Liturgical Reform - Vatican II.

The Tridentine Rite was replaced entirely by the novus ordo missae, the New Order of Mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and coming out in 1970. It too did not just happen, bam, but was a codification, a finalising and formalising, of things introduced prior to it, this time during and after the Second Vatican Council. The new rite was a NEW rite, with a new calendar, a new series of readings over three years replacing the one that stood and grew for about 1500 years, and unlike anything before it in the same rite, different options for doing one thing such as confession and absolution, not to mention four different eucharistic prayers for the heart of the mass itself.

The old rite was not declared invalid, but replaced, with certain exceptions granted for its use. The motu proprio of 2007, Summorum pontificum, did not change that at all, but rather made simpler the conditions for exceptions. And then went one better -- while the novus ordo remains the lex orandi, the rule of prayer, for the church, now, in addition to the new multiform lex orandi, the 1962 edition of the Tridentine Rite will be considered an other-than-ordinary (the word extraordinary meant literally) expression of that same lex orandi! All the same thing, of course -- implying too, one must recognise the novus ordo as the normal use of the Roman Rite to use the Tridentine Rite as its extraordinary use, which does not in the least address the entire reason why some Catholics from the get-go continued with the Tridentine Rite, namely, that the new order was false to prior orders.

Thus, if it is true that for Catholics the new mass was a great step forward, and continued steps forward consist in being faithful to the new mass rather than endless departures from it in its supposed "spirit", then this is at best an unneeded step and at worst a step backward from that reform, and if it is true that for Catholics the new mass was the step backward, indeed a step away, from the true mass, then this requires an acceptance of the invalid new rite as valid.

So, change everywhere. Indeed. But again, change is not the issue. The issue is, what kind of change and change into what.

The fact is, the liturgical reforms of Vatican II proceed from a basis completely different than, and completely foreign to, the liturgical reforms of the Lutheran Reformation. Yes, there are points of similarity in the results, certainly. There are large areas of similarity across the board. But the totality, and the underlying agenda, are an entirely different effort than ours, and in fact utterly hostile to the very thing our reform set out to reform and pass on.

VII. The Difference Between Catholic and Catholic Liturgical Reform.

The late Neuhaus, in his writings about his conversion to the post-conciliar RCC, expresses better than anything I have read in some time the utter disgust and rejection of the traditional Catholic Church, so politely expressed that Neuhaus doesn't recognise it himself, by the Catholic Church put in its place at Vatican II. An entirely new church, containing nothing of anything before it, which it clearly despises. The violent caricature that mindset offers of anything before the Council -- borrowing from yet another who constructed, like Newman, his partly Protestant partly pagan "Catholic Church" to address his own needs, Maritain -- is as much the church before the Vatican II as the "spirit" of Vatican II is Vatican II, and utterly obscene in its gross falseness (again, unintended and unrecognised) and in its disconnect from the Catholic Church (and again, unintended and unrecognised) more radical than anything in the entire range of the "Reformation".

Just as there is a "spirit" of Vatican II and Vatican II itself, there was a "spirit" of Trent and Trent itself too. Then, as now, this confusion of the two is seen in primarily two places, one being popular piety, where things are done thinking they are based in the real thing whereas they are based in the grossest of misunderstood caricatures of it, the other being the actions of priests and bishops who do essentially the same thing but with far greater implications due to their position.

How utterly ironic, as the post-conciliar RCC attempts to address the confusion of Vatican II with the "spirit" thereof by some sort of "reform of the reform", the real Vatican II itself is based on a confusion of Trent with the "spirit" thereof.

The things which, as a Lutheran now thank God, I am happy to see seem to indicate the RCC is in the early stages of catching up with where the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church has been for some centuries now, are largely the same things which, as a Catholic, indicate the RCC is in the final stages of becoming a Protestant church but with the pope at the top, as my dad, a 1941 RCC convert, used to put it.

Newman, Bouyer, Maritain, on and on, Protestants all, constructed a "Catholic Church" intellectually that allowed them to remain essentially Protestant but with the external validity supplied by the institutional RCC church, which at Vatican II was crystallised and codified and made official by the institutional RCC church itself. These theologians were collectively called the Nouvelle Theologie, the New Theology, and in the decades leading up to Vatican II were repeatedly warned against by popes up to and including the last pre-conciliar pope, Pius XII.

de Lubac in 1946 was forbidden to publish by the Catholic Church; de Lubac was a peritus at the Council and was made a cardinal by JPII.
Chenu's book Le Saulchoir was put on the Index of Forbidden Books by Pius XII; Chenu was a peritus at the Council.
Urs von Balthasar in 1950 was banned from teaching by the Catholic Church; JPII named him a cardinal.
Congar was banned from teaching or publishing by the Catholic Church; after the Council, JPII, greatly influenced by him, made him a cardinal.

Chenu and Congar, along with Rahner, Schillebeeckx and Kueng, were part of the founding of the journal Concilium, begun in 1965 during the Council as a scholarly journal of the thought behind the reform. Urs von Balthasar and de Lubac, along with Bouyer, Walter Kasper and Joseph Ratzinger, were part of the founding of the journal Communio, founded after the Council in 1972 thinking Concilium though on the right direction had gone too far.

The direction was not the issue; it is the same for both, the question being only how far it goes. The more conservative answer is Vatican II Catholicism as officially taught by the hierarchy collectively and the post-conciliar popes, the more liberal answer being the "spirit" of Vatican II, the "excesses" etc, from which the conservatives think a "reform of the reform" will deliver that church.

VIII. What's the Point of All This Catholic Stuff? We're Lutherans!

All of them, along with Rahner, Kueng, Schillebeeckx, Bouyer, Gilson, and Danielou, were the Nouvelle Theologie, warned against not by name but by description by Pius XII in Humani generis (1950). And three years earlier, in Mediator Dei, Pius XII specifically rejected a liturgical archaeology, as he called it, as a model for liturgical change, as if there were no organic development of liturgy by the Holy Spirit, and validity were to come from scholars uncovering earlier therefore purer sources which become current models.

All of that is dissent, and was recognised as such by the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II. That has one kind of consequences within the Roman Catholic Church, which amount to this: what is now normative Catholicism was prior to Vatican II dissent from Catholicism. A more conservative version of that dissent won, and now maintains supremacy over the more liberal version of the same dissent. The direction of Mediator Dei and Humani generis was left in the dust.

As Lutherans we may note indeed that liturgical reform at Trent specifically sought to remove any taint of the Reformation. But we must also -- and this is the point of going through all this "Catholic stuff" -- note that the liturgical reform at Vatican II absolutely did not accept Lutheran ideas expressed in our Confessions, but rather proceeded on a basis of "liturgical archaeology" that is foreign to both our Confessions and the Roman Catholic Church, a basis which rejects the common element of organic growth accepting and treasuring its results.

Sasse wrote in We Confess the Sacraments (Concordia 1985, the particular passage recently quoted on Pastor McCain's excellent blog Cyberbrethren for 18 June 2010) that if the right relationship of liturgy and dogma can be known in Rome, as seen in Mediator Dei, then how much moreso among us who also make the right understanding of the Gospel a criteria of liturgy.

IOW, what was lacking in Mediator Dei and in the liturgical reforms of Trent is the same thing that was lacking that led to the Lutheran Reformation, namely, a right understanding of the Gospel. At Trent, steps were taken to ensure that no taint of what were, in their minds, our incorrect and novel understanding of the Gospel would influence the liturgy, but the organic growth process itself rather than liturgical archaeology was not in dispute, just Rome's stranglehold on the process as well as on the catholic church itself.

What was lacking in Vatican II and its novus ordo is the common element not in dispute between us and Rome, the participation in that organic process, accepting what has been handed on to us rather than recreating it based on liturgical archaeology of a Romantic ideal of a lost pure Apostolic or Patristic age. In so doing, as the banned theologians of one decade became the conciliar theological experts (periti) and Cardinals of the next, Rome in no way came closer to us with a right understanding of the Gospel as a criteria of liturgy, but in fact turned its back on the right relationship of dogma however understood and liturgy that was not in dispute at the Lutheran Reformation.

Yet we (we being LCMS, not only just Lutherans in general) follow right after them, "them" being now not just Rome but the other liturgical church bodies, such as the Anglican Communion, the ECUSA and ELCA here, and the EKD in the "old country", all of them predictably doctrinally heterodox too, in either or both of adopting and adapting their novus ordo liturgy, including its lectionary and calendar, and applying the principles of liturgical archaeology to our own liturgical past.

And place the results on an equal basis with the historic liturgy, then wonder why others wonder why yet other things, or no liturgy at all, cannot also be placed on that equal footing!

IX. Conclusion. Why Catholic Liturgical Reform Has No Place In Lutheran Liturgy.

What is important for us Lutherans about that is this: both Trent and Vatican II resulted in new Roman missals, but neither effort sought what our reforms seek and therefore neither are the models to which we turn and neither produce a lex orandi consistent with our lex credendi. In the novus ordo, while on the surface it may seem to move closer to our reforms, we see an order of service that resulted from entirely different ideas and objectives than our reforms, ideas and objectives which in fact are contradictory to ours and reject their entire basis. Ours seek to retain the usual ceremonies except where contraindicated by the Gospel, theirs seek to replace the usual ceremonies with new ones based on the concepts of Nouvelle Theologie.

The fruit of their effort has nothing to contribute to ours, and, in seeking to "Lutheranise" this manner of worship we are no less attempting to make Lutheran a kind of worship based on a kind of belief that is not ours, attempting to make a lex orandi from something based on a lex credendi that is not ours, than those who go to Willow Creek et al seek to "Lutheranise" a content and a lex orandi also derived from a belief and a lex credendi that is not ours. If the latter has become popular and in many eyes not only permissible but desirable, why should that surprise us when we have done the same thing in the former?

Concilium, Communio, Nowayio!

Textual Note: This is a revision of my post "On being catholic, on being Catholic" from 18 March 2009. Understanding the nature of the two seemed more urgent than ever on this anniversary of the presentation of our most fundamental confession.

13 June 2010

The Nativity of St John the Baptist. 24 June 2010.

This feast, which passes largely unnoticed now, is one of the oldest in the Christian church year. The Council of Agde, held 10 September 506 and presided over by Bishop St Caesarius of Arles, places it among the major feasts and it had, just like the Nativity of Jesus, three distinct liturgies, a vigil, a dawn and a day one.

This isn't just a regional or even Western thing; in the Eastern Church, where he is more commonly known as St John the Forerunner (maybe that would be good for those thinking his customary Westerm name makes it seem like he was a Baptist in the denominational sense), his birth is also celebrated on 24 June, and has a vigil and an afterfeast the day after.

So why 24 June? Well, the details come only from St Luke, who says that when Gabriel announced to Mary she would bear the Messiah if she agreed, that her cousin Elisabeth was already six months pregnant. But hey, if Jesus' birthday is celebrated 25 December, shouldn't it be 25 June?

In our calendar yes, but they didn't have our calendar. In the Roman Imperial calendar, days of one month were counted backwards from the first, called the kalends, from which our word calendar comes, of the next month. Christmas is eight days before the kalends of January, so St John's birthday was put eight days before the kalends of July, but, due to our present Germanic way of counting days now, that makes it fall on 24 June.

No-body, btw, supposes these are the actual birthdays of either Jesus or John, but only that it puts them correctly relative to each other.

Either way, it puts the Nativity of St John around the time of the Summer Solstice, and some suppose the feast is just a Christian cultural appropriation from pagan culture in the process of evangelisation. Not likely since the Julian calendar in use in mediaeval Europe until 1582 puts the solstice a little earlier, in mid-June.

Nonetheless the coincidence with the approximate time of the solstice is fortunate: though they had no idea it was because of the tilt of the Earth's axis toward or away from the Sun, they could see that daylight hours increased and decreased through the year. The Summer Solstice is the so-called longest day of the year, while all days have 24 hours it has the most sunlight hours, and sunlight hours begin to decrease until the Winter Solstice or so-called shortest day of the year with the fewest sunlight hours. Even as John said of Jesus "He must increase and I must decrease" (John 3:30).

In between the solstices are the equinoxes, with about equal daylight and dark hours, and these four formed the Quarter Days, the four days marking the turn of the seasons. In the olden times in Mother England, the Quarter Days were when rents were due, worker contracts were made, and magistrates had to complete tours of even the most outlying areas of their jurisdictions to assure that none went unduly long without a hearing and resolution.

This last was one of the provisions the barons got from King John in the Magna Carta in 1215. The Magna Carta, meaning Great Charter in English, was the first time subjects -- though these subjects were themselves local ruling land owners, barons, the original "free men" (in German, Freiherren) -- got from a king certain rights and limitations of royal power as a matter of law, and set in motion a development of rule of law rather than a king's will one of whose descendants is the Constitution of the United States.

The current movie "Robin Hood" takes its context in the beginning of this development. The Magna Carta version of 1297, which includes amendments, is still part of English law.

The Quarter Days are:

25 March. Called Lady Day, also known as the Feast of the Annunciation, and until 1752, New Years Day. In Mother England 6 April is still tax day, which you may hear echoed in our 15 April. Hold on, wasn't that 25 March? Calendar change, remember -- 25 March in the old Julian calendar became 6 April in the now current Gregorian one.

25 June. The Nativity of St John the Baptist, also known as Midsummer Day, with reference to the Summer Solstice.

29 September. Michaelmas, the mass on the Feast of St Michael the Archangel, for which this blog (as with all the Quarter Days, actually) posts.

25 December. Christmas, the mass on the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus.

Saints are usually commemorated on the day of their death, that being the day of their birth into eternity, but Jesus, his mother Mary, and St John the Forerunner are the only three whose births into this life are also commemorated.

So lots to celebrate -- John, and even more importantly his whole significance, Jesus whose forerunner he was, the development of our present form of governance, Summer and all the daylight and warmth! And this year a really cool movie to go see!

And may you have pleasant, uh, Midsummer Night's dreams too!

12 June 2010

The Big 6-0.

Great Judas at the gerontologist's, I've hit 60 to-day.

Hell, here I thought I would finalise arrangements for a room at Blessed Reformer Nursing Home, but I can't find head nor tail of General Scuttlebutt, not even to get the hotline number to this pizza place he promised me.

Got me a great birthday present though -- a nice basic Whirlpool washing machine after my unit of 16 years blew its trannie all over hell last week and caused me to revisit the world of laundromats last week-end.

Now don't that beat all, thinking a washing machine is cool. Well, it is, a solid basic little unit with three load size settings (small, medium, large), three water temperature settings (cold, warm, hot) and three wash cycle settings (normal, delicates, permanent press) and that's bloody it.

Haven't seen anything reflect the perfection of the Trinity so well since they quit insisting on triple time and let duple time in for church music, now somebody oughta shout.

Judas H Priest, a guy who used to think a car is just transportation unless it was a rear-engined two-seater with a gearbox (had one for over twenty years too) now drives a Chrysler Town & Country and thinks it's the best thing on wheels ever Amen.

Gotta be at the office/store to let the IT person in at 0900 to finish set-up of the new computers after the file transfer going on about now, so the bleeder is up and running when the Saturday person opens at 1000.

Great digital Judas.

I remember when I was younger and my dad started getting senior discounts I thought Oh hell no, when I get there I'm gonna pay just like anyone else! Hell, now if I don't see an Old Man Discount I ask if there is one! Some places start them at 50!

It's been a hell of a life so far, hasn't turned out anything like anything I was thinking 40 or 50 years ago. But you know what, that ain't all bad -- professed confessional Lutheranism in 1996, first in WELS and 10 years later in LCMS. Whoda thunk a preconciliar altar boy thinking of being a priest who goes to university in a Benedictine hotbed of liturgical renewal and other nonsense would do that. Not me lemme tell ya.

Germans too. Even better, Bavarians, hell started out with Wittelsbach money and from Kloster Metten to boot! My first Lutheran pastor said that was God, he knew I would come to where the Word is rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, and saw to it I learned to rant in German first. He may have been joking. Or not.

The miracle is, worse stuff has happened to me in the years since then ever did in the years before, and I have not had what some call a crisis of faith. Now that's a flat out bleeding miracle, and proof enough for me that faith is entirely the gift of the Holy Ghost and not in the least a work or merit of mine.

Before, crisis of faith was a way of life, going from the preconciliar RCC, which in preconciliar times seemed just fine to me, to Vatican II, to chucking, or rather upchucking, the whole thing and hanging out as a Righteous of the Nations around Orthodox Judaism for twenty some years.

This is the God part IMHO -- then this complete and total babe of an LCMS woman as boofed out about Lutheranism by the whole Seminex thing as I was about Catholicism by the whole Vatican II thing turns up and I'm completely and totally ausgeflipt, and we're all set to get married in a non-Jewish ceremony by an Orthodox rabbi (there is no other kind, I just threw in the adjective for clarity since some think there is).

Which rabbi gets boofed by his congregation for being a little too Orthodox (there is no such thing) and he leaves town, so this LCMS pastor we knew fills in, since that was her background and they were the only Christian church left for which I had any respect left since they had pulled back from the precipice of raging revisionism, though I have since learned not the hell far enough.

And the Lutheran saga begins, us taking adult class to resolve things, we hope, since as we were off to late start with the whole marriage and family thing we needed to have kids and soon, but didn't want to inflict our respective burn-outs on them.

Read the 1520 treatises on the side during that, and when I hit the part about the mass (as distinct from the Mass) in Babylonian Captivity, I knew this was it, I'm in. Read the BOC cover to cover -- Tappert, this was before the coming of the "McCain" BOC, which is what I now read -- in between feedings of my oldest son. His DOB (date of baptism) is 25 August 1996 and I professed 15 December 1996. Told ya we were in a hurry about kids.

She turns up pregnant again (told ya), then turns up with cancer, gives birth, dies three months later and I'm a widower with a kid at my second son's baptism a year later. Then come the corporate, economic and child-raising shake ups in the years that follow. The natural me would conclude this is a cosmic cruel joke. When they say faith is a gift they ain't kidding. I still know this is it, and I'm in, and I also know I cannot produce that in myself.

Not to mention the lunatics who would rather run after those who ran after Vatican II based "ecumenical" bullroar revisionism and create a Lutheran version thereof, not to mention the lunatics who would rather run after those who run after megachurch marketing based "evangelical" bullroar revisionism and create a Lutheran version thereof -- looking like opposites while doing exactly the same thing, trying to force a Lutheran content into a form that is as it is because it doesn't believe Lutheran content, differing only in what form they run after instead of the Confessions' zealous guarding and keeping of things like "the traditional order of lessons" and "the ceremonies previously in use" not to mention the Word rightly preached (aka doctrinal purity) and the Sacraments properly administered.

I'm in. This IS it, the Rock against which the gates of hell itself -- not to mention any collective madness at district and synodical conventions -- shall not prevail. Which promise is to the Rock, the confession, not to synods and conventions any more that to men in mitres in Rome.

And speaking of mitres, take it all around, the one thing I do find ironic about this getting older thing is that most of the people who take their confessional Lutheranism as I do are 15 or 20 or more years younger than I am, whereas my generation seems permanently stuck somewhere around 1969 or so -- I've even seen ads for retirement mutual funds with clips from Woodstock in them Gott hilf mir seitlich -- and I probably won't live long enough for these damned ageing Boomers to die off and leave the church to the next generation or two, who seem to have turned out rather well considering we were their parents and grandparents.

Well we in a collective sense. I got off to a late start like I told ya. Most guys my age have grown children, not kids in middle school or junior high or whatever they're calling it this year. Hell I ain't got time to be 60. Maybe later.

So I guess that room at Blessed Reformer Home will just have to wait. I was looking forward to stoking the General's thurible at services. Hey, I got it -- maybe since his blog is gone too, now that I'm 60 I'll shed the irenic, pacific, measured tone for which Past Elder is known throughout the Lutheran blogosphere and amp it up just a little!

Well, time to turn in, then get up, clean up, put on some clothes washed in my totally cool basic Whirlpool, drive my best thing on wheels ever Town & Country to the office and let the IT maven in at 0900 on my bleeding birthday. I ain't got time to be 60. Maybe later. But bring on those senior discounts, hell yes!

05 June 2010

St Boniface, OSB. 5 June 2010.

What a guy. For starters, the patron saint of Germany is an Englishman. Now how did that happen?

Well, Winfred -- that's his real name -- was born to a wealthy family (funny how that happens a lot in what become "great" saints) in Wessex around 672 or so. What's Wessex? We English love contractions for stuff; Wessex is a contraction for West Saxons. Judas, isn't Saxony in Germany? Yeah, it is. We English are basically a German people, with some Roman from before, and a bunch of stuff later, largely French, though the main kind of French, Normans, are basically German too, as are the Vikings who were always raiding and conquering stuff. Probably looking for some decent food, if you've ever had lutefisk or other Scandinavian food. Unfortunately our food isn't that great either, which is probably why the raids were so fierce -- they were ticked, came all this way and the food is still crap, so they trashed the place.

A bunch of us German types came in about the time the Romans were losing their grip and the original peoples were losing what was left of theirs too. So, you had Wessex, the Kingdom of the West Saxons in the western modern United Kingdom (it really is a union of formerly separate kingdoms), Sussex, the Kingdom of the South Saxons, and Essex, the Kingdom of the East Saxons. Essex is just South of East Anglia, which is where my people came -- hey, we were invited, the locals were having trouble holding off the Scots after the Romans left -- from Anglia, in modern Schleswig-Holstein, a state in modern Germany.

Just for the record, there's seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and eventually they became a united Kingdom of England, which word comes from us, Angle-land. They are: Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia (they were some bad dudes, but I ain't getting into that now); Northumbria; Kent; Sussex; Essex. Collectively, they are traditionally called the Heptarchy.

Anyway, here's Winfrid in Wessex. Against his father's wishes, he takes off to a Benedictine monkatorium -- one extreme to another. In 716 he sets out to convert the Frisians, since his language, which we now call Old English, wasn't all that different than theirs. Oh, what's Frisia? Well, it's die deutsche Bucht, howzat -- means the German Bay, or cove or bight, the German coastal area on the southeast corner of the North Sea.

Trouble is, the was a war on between old Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer, and the King of Frisia, so he and his company went back home. They came back though. This time he had the support and protection of Charles Martel. Whozat, came up twice now -- King of the Franks and grandfather of Charlemagne, aka Carolus Magnus, aka Karl der Grosse, whose Carolingian Empire became the Holy Roman Empire (Imperium Romanum Sacrum, or das heiliges roemisches Reich) with the blessings of the bishops of Rome, some of them in turn put there by the empire, call it a symbiotic relationship. Wanna spice it up at your next let's-impress-each-other cocktail party? Call France West Francia and Germany East Francia, which is pretty much what they are.

Anyway, the object of the game was for the Christian Carolingians to conquer the Saxons, which of course meant making them Christian which they weren't like the Carolingians. So in 723, under royal and military protection, a famous thing happened -- Winfrid, not yet known by his Benedictine name, Boniface, from the Latin Bonifacius, meaning well-made, thinking of Elijah in the Bible story, goes up to a sacred tree that was a major religious site to Thor, near Fritzlar in the modern German state of Hesse, for the as yet pagan Germans, and chops the bleeder down, saying if Thor was real he could strike him dead.

Didn't happen, and the story is they all, Germans outside the former Roman Imperial boundaries, became Christian on seeing that. Then the next year (724) he builds a chapel from wood from the oak; he set up a bishop -- guess you didn't need a papal appointment -- and established a Benedictine monastery in Fritzlar, and its first abbot, Wigbert, built a cathedral on the site of Boniface's chapel on the site of Thor's Oak. The bishop died and it became part of the bishopric of Mainz, of which Boniface became bishop in 745. The old Roman name, Moguntiaticum, became Mainz, and Boniface was its first bishop. Boniface made several (three, I think) trips to Rome and was granted the pallium (holy crap what's a pallium? -- it's a wool scarf worn by the pope as a symbol of his supposed authority, which the popes later also gave to some regional bishops to show their support of and from papal authority, which is silly enough, but these things were sold and the right to wear them brought in millions to the papal fortune) by Pope Gregory II in 732 and was given authority of what is now Germany, whereupon Charles Martel started setting up bishoprics all over with Boniface over them. Pope, king, what the hell. Boniface himself said he couldn't have done it without the military and political power of Charles Martel. (He said it to Daniel of Winchester but Godfrey was there by institutional memory and told me about the whole thing, plus it's in all the history books if that isn't good enough for you.)

But there was still these frigging Frisians, who weren't converted yet. Bloody coastal areas anyway. So in 754 he sets out to get them after all, but they weren't so hot to be gotten, and he ended up getting killed. His remains were taken to Utrecht, and then to Fulda, where Boniface's disciple Sturm -- hey, didn't he have a brother named Drang (if you're laughing, a special welcome to Past Elder) -- started a Benedictine monastery on 12 March 744, which lasted until Napoleon shut it down in 1802, in what we call in German -- ready for this -- Reichsdeputationschauptschluss. Relax, that's just the nickname. Its real name is Hauptschluss der ausserordentlichen Reichsdeputation, which means the Main Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation, which was the last thing the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire really did, on 25 February 1803, before the HRE ended in 1806. Basically, caved to Napoleon and secularised religious stuff.

If you're thinking continuity, or hermeneutics thereof, forget it. Fulda started up again as an episcopal see, meaning a bishopric, in 1829. The German Catholic bishops still have their conferences there, but this is not the old Fulda. Likewise, the current Catholic Diocese of Mainz is not the old Archbishopric of Mainz; the latter ended and the new one began in 1802 too and they ain't the Kurfuerstentum Mainz no more either. Who the hell were they? One of the seven guys who elected Holy Roman Emperors, that's who.

For the record, the other six electors besides the Prince-Archbishop of Mainz were the Prince-Archbishop of Trier (man I love Trier, Judas Priest even Constantine was there, that's where he ditched his wife and married another, whom he later had killed along with their son, in a power deal as part of becoming "Great" and "Equal of the Apostles", haven't been able to get that utterly captivating city out of my mind since I was there in 1969, man I love Trier), the Prince-Archbishop of Koeln (Cologne, couldn't understand bupkis of the local dialect there), the King of Bohemia (a Habsburg since 1526, think Austria), the Count Palatine of the Rhine (always a Wittlesbach, the royal family of Bavaria, yay!, whose money started the Benedictine place in Minnesota where I, well, I don't know exactly what the hell I did there), the Duke of Saxony (a Wettin since 1423) and the Margrave of Brandenburg (a Hohenzollern since 1415, think Prussia).

Oh yeah, Boniface. His body is still there in the Fulda cathedral. Before we get all misty about the "Apostle to the Germans" and all, we should remember that the spread of Christianity through the Apostles took no such course as described above. That was anything but the increase of the state church right along with the increase of the state to which it belonged. This is not a story of the triumph of the Gospel, because as Boniface himself said, it would hardly have been possible without the triumph of the state, therefore, one must also get misty about the, or that, state. And its prince-bishops including the biggest one of all, the pope of Rome, still bearing the title of the chief priest of the pagan Imperial religion, pontifex maximus. Which is exactly what happened.

The head of state no longer carries that title, the church of Christ knows neither such a title nor regional versions. The spread of Christianity brought with it the same things that would later make the Reformation necessary; as the church had become deformed so it would need to be reformed. And so it was. While we might admire the zeal, Christianity should never be spread in this way, and the Christianity that is spread in this way is a deformed Christianity that will eventually need to be reformed.

Thanks be to God that it was. Or rather, is being so reformed; the Lutheran Reformation is a process, not a past historical fact. And to-day as needed by some church bodies with "Lutheran" in their names as the state church now without a state, the RCC.

PS. Old Boniface didn't totally get rid of the Thor, or in German Donner, thing. The sacred oak may be gone, but we still have his day, Thor's Day, or Thursday -- we English love contractions. In German it's Donnerstag, same thing.